Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A little Burgundy Never Hurt!

“David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa valley. In addition to consulting and wine writing David made wine for his own label “Bellum Cellars” in 2008. E-mail davidg@wine16.com for more information."

There are a few types of tasting opportunities any wine lover should never pass up. Burgundy is certainly at the top of the list. The relationship between burgundy wines and those who seek them out is love hate. The wines can be some of the greatest in the world and they are priced as such. Not all burgundy wines are great, in fact some are serious underperformers; Throw in a hefty price tag and you have a paradox. There is no magical answer key, burhound.com will not solve your problems and neither will I. There is some crucial advice I can pass on to you however, taste as much as you can and “always” write notes. Save your notes and re read them, study them. More than any other wines in the world burgundy needs to be studied and reviewed. Your own taste needs to be developed of course but baseline knowledge is of the utmost importance to build. In addition to tasting notes, vintage notes are important to read and put to memory. Try out a few different publications, ask some knowledgeable friends, ask me! Find credible sources but gather a general consensus of average, good, great, and not so great vintages. Knowing your basics of burgundies’ geography and vintages will save you a great deal of money and despair.

Last month I was able to slip my way into a secret burgundy tasting group in Sonoma (I guess it’s not a secret anymore!) The price of admission was a bottle of good burgundy. Through one of my clients I consult for I was able to procure a bottle of 1996 Domaine de Larlot, Clos des Fortes st Georges 1er cru. Upon approaching the house where this tasting was to take place I noticed the flag of burgundy hanging from a post in the front yard, apparently these guys were really serious about there Bourgogne. I immediately noticed I was the youngest taster present by 20 years easily. I find this age thing to be a re occurring theme at most tastings. Among the group I would be tasting with was the general manager of the rare wine company, a fantastic wine author and columnist for the “Wine Business Monthly Journal” Jake Lorenzo, and an a gentleman who has imported burgundy wines for well over 30 years (in fact he brought the first wines from Dujac into the US) Some people might feel a bit intimidated in a situation like this but I’ve learned from experience that if you just stay true to your palate and trust your gut others will follow suit and everyone has a great easy going time. Many wines were consumed over the next few hours, a few of which I unfortunately did not take notes on but the wines that stood out in my mind I was sure to jot down my thoughts on. The following are notes from this tasting:

2001 Monopole, Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru, “Clos de la Mouchere”
- On the nose this wine carries a powerful aroma of raw honey comb, yellow cake, ripe lemon and melon peel with a creamy and buttery character. The palate is surprisingly crisp and fresh with more of a meyer lemon character than the nose, solid mouth feel and acidity make this a tasty white burgundy. 89 points

2004 Etienne Sauzet, Puliginy-Montrachet, 1er cru “Champ Canet”
- Aromas of orange and lemon peel lead off followed by processed honey and a touch of sweet basil. The palate follows suit with more of the wonderful citrus flavors and that sweet basil aspect I found to be pleasing. Fresh alive acidy adds structure to a rounded mid palate and long finish. 91 points

1993 Domaine Gros Frere et Loeur, Grands- Echezeaux, Grand Cru
- A bit of an underperformer for its pedigree but quite pleasant none the less. A nose of strawberry, black cherry and saddle leather was interrupted by a hint of Brett. The palate is where this wine lost me a bit, solid acidity, but the tannin had warn off a bit prematurely even for its age. Orange peel and leather were predominant on the palate. 89 points

1996 Domaine de Larlot, 1er cru “Clos des Fortes”
- A very soft approach on the nose with aromas black cherry, ripe strawberry and a delicious secondary mushroom aspect I always love in Burgundies. Crushed rose peddle adds complexity to the wonderful ripe fruits on the palate. I especially love the beautiful minerality showing through, great acid and tannin structure make this wine the complete package in my eyes. 90+ points

1997 Joseph Drouhin, Grands-Echezeaux, Gand Cru
- Beautiful strawberry and black cherry aromas followed by a nice earthy spice. The palate carries an impressive structure and copious amounts of mouthwatering fruit. Some hints of charred oak add depth to the overall impression of this wine. Definitely an over performer for this vintage. 92 points

1998 Domaine Thomas-Moillard, Corton Clos Du Roi, Grand Cru
- Another slightly underperforming Grand Cru. On the nose a pleasant black raspberry and baking spice meets warn leather aromas that are more secondary than anything. The palate had really fallen out, the tannin was there but acidity was lacking resulting in an average finish. 84 points

2003 Gerard Raphet, Clos De la Roche, Grand Cru
- A sweet nose of ripe cherry, strawberry and rhubarb gives way to a creamy aroma that is quite pleasing. A firm acidity gives a strong back bone to this ripe luscious Grand Cru, the tannins are refined yet firm and will help provide a sizable drinking window for all to enjoy. Proof yet again that the 2003 vintage still holds onto refinement in certain wines. 90 points

2006 Jacques-Frederic Mugnier, 1er Cru “Clos de la Marechale”
- OK so I know this is just a baby, and what’s worse is I tasted this from a magnum sized bottle as well. I look at this as “research” have to know where a wine has been to appreciate the changes it’s made over time. On the nose a beautiful linier cherry and rose peddle are curiously wrapped in a slatey essence that is almost invigorating. Ripe fruits on the palate are held tightly in place by firm structure. A long finish follows that has only just begun to show where it can go. I look forward to drinking this wine many more times in the future. 91 points

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